The Los Angeles Times’ owner is selling the newspaper to one of its shareholders, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Several unnamed sources involved in the deal told the Post that Tronc Inc., the paper’s Chicago-based owner, will soon announce it is selling the Times to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a major shareholder in Tronc. He will also reportedly purchase the Times’ sister paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Reporters at the Times also confirmed that Tronc and Soon-Shiong are “working furiously to complete the transaction” and plan to make an announcement soon. The deal is reported to be nearly $500 million.
News of the sale comes amid intense upheaval at the Times, where staffers have clashed with management installed by Tronc over the paper’s editorial direction. Last month, journalists at the paper voted to unionize, defying pressure from its leaders to abandon the effort.
Soon-Shiong, the billionaire founder and chief executive of California-based health care firm NantHealth, has previously been critical of Tronc’s leadership, accusing the company of “poor corporate governance” last year. Rumors began circulating last spring that Soon-Shiong may attempt to buy Tronc or the Times in early 2018.
Times staffers’ overall reaction to the news of the reported sale was positive, one reporter in the newsroom tweeted on Tuesday.
The relationship between Tronc and Times staffers became particularly rocky in recent weeks. Days after the announcement that the union campaign was successful, sources told HuffPost that Tronc was quietly establishing a network of non-union contributors that amounted a shadow newsroom.
And the day before the union vote was announced, NPR revealed that Times publisher Ross Levinsohn, whom Tronc had hired in August to run the paper, had been accused of sexual misconduct multiple times at previous jobs. He is currently out on unpaid leave while an investigation into the allegations is underway.
Tronc also owns several other papers, including The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and the New York Daily News.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.